Trick-or-treating has always had a special place in my anxiety-filled heart.
No matter how good I get at greeting and talking to strangers, there is something about wandering the town that has always made my heart speed up a little and that slight feeling of panic start like an undercurrent beneath everything else I’m thinking and feeling. The anxiety is like the Loch Ness Monster – you know it’s there but if you try and focus on it, you just can’t find the source. It’s elusive, and you begin to wonder – is it even there? Am I just making it up? Is there just excess electricity in the air?
But it remains.
I finally got to the point the year before last where I was comfortable going with my hubby and doing the wander-around-the-block thing. But there were so many older kids that were pushing past my babies that the anxiety wasn’t just an undercurrent. These little asshats that would push preschoolers. Me? I couldn’t really do a thing other than hope my kids weren’t pushed on their asses. I mean, what do you say to a 10-year-old slutty witch? Her life will be what she has coming to her soon enough – she doesn’t need me giving her a memory that lasts to her 40s that reminds her even then that her studio apartment and barfly ways were her destiny long before she found herself in a position to be surprised by it. Or she could grow up to be a senator’s wife. Who knows. But when you lash out at anyone – children or adult – you are leaving yourself in their brain forever.
This year, hubby is working. He’s going to be leaving at 2:30, a full half-hour before trick-or-treating begins. So it’s going to be me and the three kids. Wandering the neighborhood for four hours and filling up bags of candy they’ll never be able to finish before it goes horribly stale. Never knowing what a smarties orsweettarts or pixie stix are because those are the only things I snag from the candy haul, and they last almost all year. (I mean, they’re pure sugar, who needs ’em, right?)
But going alone – with three kids – this is not something I am looking forward to and my anxiety thinking about it – writing about it – is just beyond anything I could describe with something as clear and simple as words.
Once I’m actually doing it, I’ll be fine. I always am. I just hate anticipation. Hate.
I also don’t like being alone for things like this. Not one little bit. I mean, if I wanted to drag a stroller, reusable shopping bags (best trick or treating bag, ever, right?) a baby and two kids around my neighborhood, I wouldn’t have gotten married and skipped straight to a sperm bank and insemination. I put up with the hassle of being in love and compromising with my life partner because he’s supposed to be part of these anxiety-causing situations. You know, to relieve the anxiety. To keep the kids safe from kids who are old enough to think that costumes are stupid but still want free candy so have the audacity to come to MY door in nothing but sweats and a hoodie and try to get some. That happened last year. I not only did not give the kid candy, I gave him a lecture that started with “Oh HELL no.”
He left, and when they crossed back and RE-WENT to all the houses on the block, they skipped my house. No eggs, no muss, no fuss. Because I made sense. I told him you don’t have to buy a costume but if I made the effort to spend my money and my time on candy he could put in the effort to figure out how to make a costume, money or not.
See, I’m a sweetheart. I didn’t shame him. I just called him lazy. Totally different, right?
When the van full of kids showed up in front of my house with nothing but a clown nose and rainbow afro to share between the five of them, they all passed the afro and nose and the one who put it on then said trick or treat.
I gave them extra candy because they put a little effort into it. I really have low standards. It’s why I get frustrated when people don’t meet those low, low standards.
But trick or treating. Yeah. It’s less stressful than handing out candy, I guess. So we’re going to do it. One kid is going to hit the motherlode when they come to my house and see a bowl full of candy – hopefully they’ll just take one or two – but there’s always the gory mask and nothing else kid or the slutty witch or slutty nurse that will take more than they should without a thought to the little kids.
But, to be honest, it’s probably going to be an adult who takes more than they should.
Don’t they always? Push that envelope. Lie about your accomplishment to sound more special than you actually are. Pretend you’re going to hang out with a friend and then ditch her at the last minute. Or just decide you don’t feel like doing something you promised you would. Adults are always the ones doing the truly horrible things – so why get worked up about some kids in outfits those same bad adults let kids wear out in public? Exactly. There’s no reason at all.
Maybe I’ll consider Halloween my New Year for the year. I mean, the government considers it April 15th and companies can have a new year start whenever they like as long as they’re consistent. I don’t need to wait for January 1st to make my life better and keep people that are close to me the type of people I’m proud to be associated with.
Not liars and not people who lie to my friends. (See, those “horrible things adults do” examples up there? Only one of them is from me. The other two happened to people I know, not me directly.)
I know so many people now that I think it’s time to circle the wagons and count up who we have in here that’s worth protecting. Because some amazing people I know aren’t getting the attention they deserve because I’m wasting it on liars and fools.
There may always be liars and fools, one of the secrets of networking is that you don’t need everybody you meet. It’s important to remember that like attracts like and that when you discover a bad apple, they’ll probably only ever introduce you to other bad apples. Honestly, even if they do know amazing people, is it worth the effort and risk and life-force necessary to keep up your connection with the one bad apple?
I think not.
Hopefully we don’t get any bad apples while we’re out trick or treating tonight. We probably won’t. Halloween pretty much rules. Low crime, one poisoned kid ever and that was by his own dad, it’s kind of a free-range parent’s dream. And, as much as I wish I could just keep my kids in my pouch like a mama kangaroo, it’s time for me to be that free-range parent I want to be. That I dream of being. The one that lets my kids be …. less afraid when they grow up.
I used to write crazy-long posts like this. I stopped. I read somewhere no one wants to read super-long posts.
But that’s another thing. I’m writing this for me. I hope you enjoy it, but it’s for me. To look back and remember. To know what I wanted. To know who I was. Because it’s so easy to lose track of who we are.